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Lillian Pierce : Class numbers of quadratic number fields: a few highlights on the timeline from Gauss to today

Each number field (finite extension of the rational numbers) has an invariant associated to it called the class number (the cardinality of the class group of the field). Class numbers pop up throughout number theory, and over the last two hundred years people have been considering questions about the growth and divisibility properties of class numbers. We’ll focus on class numbers of quadratic extensions of the rationals, surveying some key results in the two centuries since the pioneering work of Gauss, and then turning to very recent joint work of the speaker with Roger Heath-Brown on averages and moments associated to class numbers of imaginary quadratic fields.

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